EuroPeers are back on track

The EuroPeers Annual Network Meeting in Rome was the first in-person event I could facilitate again after so many months without residential events or training. And of course, it was also weird to think of being with 70 other people in one place, holding the space for them to feel safe and comfortable to share and collaborate again. Facilitating a residential event – what was it again?

Well, it could not have been a better environment since me being a trainer is very much connected with having started to be engaged and feeling part of something bigger with the EuroPeers community. 

A good friend and colleague of mine once said: “it’s like swimming!” So I was glad that I could swim and exercise my facilitation abilities in the frame of this very safe sea and meet so many new and familiar fishes I share some memories, values, and ideas with. 

One thing was very clear already when I met the team in person one day before: the social contact between people – even at two meters distance – is very much needed for human beings. Seeing and feeling this crowd moving, listening, laughing, being active, and observing the single molecules of the crowd in having deeper talks, sharing thoughts and ideas made sure: EuroPeers are back on track! 

Well, they never left the track, we know! It was incredible how many EuroPeers joined the network meeting who so far just met other peers online and did their training online. During the last one and a half years we learned that EuroPeers are able to hold connections over long-distance, they know how to keep the community feeling inside, they stay active in other ways, and practice solidarity. And we did that and have shown that we keep a connection to the ones who belong to us: I am very glad to have met a few EuroPeers from the UK who keep on going and to have had the chance to work with Nathan within the trainer team.

This encounter was a huge learning opportunity for all involved: How to organise a big face-to-face event in pandemic times? And how to provide access to those who couldn’t join the residential event? I think we managed well and I am glad we had the chance to try out to provide a hybrid version. And we learned a lot when it comes to the questions of how to take care of the vulnerable ones in society for whom these times are even more challenging or how to take care of this one planet we have.

I saw all EuroPeers working hard on their mission, vision, and values, on new ideas to stay connected, learn from each other and build alliances and use synergies. And of course, brainstorming and developing new ideas, activities, and projects. But also the representatives of the National Agencies used the days very wisely working on a long-term plan for keeping EuroPeers alive, letting the community grow, and developing the network further. So we have the next years of international network meetings already taken care of.

One last thing grabbed my attention. Traveling again seems to be more special now and somehow leaves one feeling privileged. Transferring my body and mind to another place, moving in time and space, and being framed by another environment has an influence on the way we look at things and people, how we understand them, how we learn and reflect on learning. This ‘being somewhere else’ is a quality that should be exploited as much as possible to feel a relation to the place you are. So I was very glad and felt inspired to stay a few extra days in Rome afterward.

I am very much looking forward to meeting you all again in Poland!

By Sabrina, EuroPeer and trainer

Time to work together in solidarity

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author.

When the UK government decided that the UK was going to stop participating in the Erasmus+ Scheme, it was a terrible blow to everyone, especially young people who wanted to continue supporting and taking part in inter-European opportunities. It was also bad news for many organisations which not only provided fantastic opportunities but were built and run on the fantastic volunteers and opportunities provided through strong European projects like Erasmus+ or European Solidarity Corps.

The absence of Erasmus+ leaves EuroPeers UK in a difficult situation; Evolve or slowly become obsolete. So, what does evolution mean? How do we do it?  To see the future we have to understand the present and find the silver linings. So, where are we and what have we lost?

We, unfortunately, lost both Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps (ESC)(2021-2027)* which together accounted for most of the youth mobility, education and empowerment projects. The UK government have started a ‘replacement’ project called Turing, [1] though it is a mere shadow of Erasmus+. Erasmus+ funds projects for education staff and youth worker mobility allowing many groups to share best practices [2] . It also dedicates significant funding to projects around sports, youth mobility (outside formal education), youth empowerment and solidarity. Turing on the other hand, does not allow any adult mobility, [4] depriving over three thousand UK education staff of the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience annually [3] . In 2018-19 3962 staff were part of an outgoing project and 4693 were part of an incoming project [2] . Turing is designed solely for school, vocational and university education mobility projects [4] . Turing won’t fund projects relating to youth exchanges, sport, long term youth mobility, exchange of good practice, innovation, policy reform or solidarity [4,6] . Projects in the youth sector of Erasmus+ had 8367 UK related participants with an additional 575 ESC participants [2,5] . Turing’s largest failing in my opinion is the lack of solidarity. Turing has no mechanism for reciprocity [1,4] meaning that it will only fund UK students studying abroad.

I know it may seem like we lost everything but there are silver linings. Let’s take a look at what can help us. The Welsh, Scottish and Irish Governments can be a great source of inspiration. Each government has shown regret that the UK is no longer a part of Erasmus+ whilst some have even started work on replacements [7,8,11,12] . There is even support for Scotland and Wales rejoining Erasmus+ in the European Parliament [10,11] . I will start with the Scottish government as it is the easiest to summarise. Scotland made it clear that they wanted to rejoin Erasmus+ and had the support of over 140 MEPs but the European Commission stated that they couldn’t join because they are a constituent part of the UK [10,11] .

The Irish Government is setting up a scheme to allow Northern Irish people to participate in Erasmus+ through Irish institutions and organisations. This scheme is estimated to cost the Irish Government €2m per year but will ensure Northern Irish staff and students can continue to participate [12,13] . Wales has one of the most intriguing proposals for dealing with the loss of Erasmus+. Wales is setting up its own replacement programme called International Learning Exchange Programme (ILEP) [7,8] . It is designed to fill most of the holes left by Turing. This means, most importantly, that it will be reciprocal so that Europeans can receive funding to come to the UK [7] . It should cover all major areas that Erasmus+ did, from mobility to strategic partnerships and from students to youth workers. It is not clear if ILEP will support EVS and ESC style mobility projects. The programme will be funded with £65m for four years and will be organised by Cardiff University [7,9] . The programme is expected to send 15000 participants and receive 10000 participants during the first four years [8] .

Lastly, I want to talk about EuroPeers. The UK has strong links to the rest of Europe through EuroPeers. The links that we have with other EuroPeer networks can be a fantastic source of inspiration, ideas and practical help. That leaves the last and hardest question to answer. What can we do to improve the situation? There is plenty of room for creativity, cooperation and fun when looking for effective solutions. I will outline some ideas that I have had but would love to hear what you think we could do.

We could set up an information project to help youth organisations in the UK as well as Europe to find high quality, up to date information about ways to cooperate and run projects. This could involve having a website or email address in multiple languages that they are encouraged to use for advice. Any EuroPeer could help to translate information to their language or promote the resource to youth organisations they know or work with. A project like this would take a lot of work but could be very valuable for supporting cross border cooperation and projects. EuroPeers UK could become a facilitator of new European exchange opportunities. EuroPeers could play an important role in finding the opportunities we have left and ensuring they are used by connecting youth organisations across Europe. As well as knowing about the new arrangements, organisations in the UK and around Europe will need to find other organisations they can work with. If we can make it easier for organisations to find each other and appropriate funding sources, we will be encouraging the starting of more projects.

The last idea I will talk about is advocacy for the return of Erasmus+ and the improvement of its replacements. EuroPeers UK, with the support of EuroPeers international, should become a strong voice for the return of Erasmus+ in the long term whilst trying to encourage the improvement of the replacements. Scotland and England do not have any kind of replacement programme in place. Wales has a replacement in development with input from many different youth organisations but none have experience with the long term Youth Mobility projects. EuroPeers could provide valuable experience and support to the development of a long term Youth Mobility aspect of the programme. We must start advocating for these types of projects and find new ways for them to continue. We will only be able to achieve our aims with the help of our friends in EuroPeers everywhere. Solidarity is often talked about in an EU context but if there was a time to work together in solidarity for everyone’s benefit, it’s now.

By Alex McDonald

[1]BBC News. 2021. Turing Scheme: What is the Erasmus replacement?. [online] Available at: <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-47293927> [Accessed 6 October 2021].

[2]European Commission, 2021. UK Erasmus+ 2019 in numbers. [online] Ec.europa.eu. Available at: <https://ec.europa.eu/assets/eac/factsheets/factsheet-uk-2019_en.html> [Accessed 6 October 2021].

[3]UK National Agency for Erasmus+, Erasmus+ UK Higher Education Mobility Statistics 2014-19,[online] Available at:<https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/results-and-statistics> [Accessed 6 October 2021].

[4]Turing Scheme Website | About Section, 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.turing-scheme.org.uk/about> [Accessed 6 October 2021].

[5]European Commission EU Publications Office, European Solidarity Corps Annual Report 2018-2019.[online] Available at: <https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/d6b7ad55-3f4f-11eb-b27b-01aa75ed71a1/language-en> [Accessed 6 October 2021].

[6]UK National Agency for Erasmus+, Erasmus+ What are the Key Actions?. [online] Available at: <https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/what-are-the-key-actions> [Accessed 7 October 2021].

[7]The Welsh Government, Written Statement: An International Learning Exchange Programme for Wales.<https://gov.wales/written-statement-international-learning-exchange-programme-wales> [Accessed 7 October 2021].

[8]The Welsh Government, New International Learning Exchange programme to make good the loss of Erasmus+.<https://gov.wales/new-international-learning-exchange-programme-make-good-loss-erasmus> [Accessed 7 October 2021].

[9]Cardiff University, International Learning Exchange Programme (ILEP) – 04.05.2021.<https://gov.wales/new-international-learning-exchange-programme-make-good-loss-erasmus> [Accessed 7 October 2021].

[10]Terry Reintke, Brexit/Erasmus: Commission shall explore pathways for Scotland and Wales to stay in the programme. [online] <https://terryreintke.eu/en/blog/brexit-erasmus-commission-shall-explore-pathways-for-scotland-and-wales-to-stay-in-the-programme/> [Accessed 17 October 2021].

[11]The National Scot. Erasmus: EU chief says Scotland cannot join scheme while part of the UK.[online] Available at: <https://www.thenational.scot/news/19093760.erasmus-eu-chief-says-scotland-cannot-join-scheme-part-uk/> [Accessed 17 October 2021].

[12]Politico EU. Ireland to fund Erasmus scheme for Northern Irish students.[online] Available at:<https://www.politico.eu/article/ireland-fund-erasmus-northern-irish-students/> [Accessed 17 October 2021].

[13]Belfast Telegraph. NI students could be able to avail of Erasmus scheme in September. [online] Available at: <https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/ni-students-could-be-able-to-avail-of-erasmus-scheme-in-september-40195824.html> [Accessed 17 October 2021].

*Please note that the projects funded by the Erasmus+ and ESC programmes 2014-2020 will continue as planned under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU. More information can be found at https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk

#DiscoverEU: deadline 26 October

Discover EU – The free interrail ticket with not enough publicity

DEADLINE: Tuesday 26th October, 12:00 CEST


As an 18 year old the idea of travelling around Europe is too good to be true – let alone free
travel; but that’s exactly what the Discover EU scheme is all about. Originally set up as an
incentive to get young people to explore Europe, Discover EU has grown year upon year and
the next round of applications have opened and this year – with a twist.

Due to the disruption over the past two years caused by Caronavirus this rounds applications
are open to those born between (and including) 1 July 2001 and 31st December 2003 who
previously missed out on the scheme. There is no guarantee that you’ll be allocated a ticket but
you have nothing to lose by applying. You can apply as an individual or as a group.

Take it from me, who, way back during Discover EU’s early days, applied on a whim during the
second cycle. The process was relatively straight forward and took around 30 minutes with no
real taxing questions and it wasn’t until I got the email notification that I had been selected did it
all really sink in.

I’d done some travelling before but this was very different, the interrail ticket itself is so flexible
that it offers limitless routes and adventures for whatever it is you fancy seeing or doing. For me,
I decided to do some travelling after my ICS trip to Nepal. I needed something to shake off the
post travel blues and this was – quite literally – my golden ticket. I planned to start in Poland,
make my way through Germany, and the Netherlands and eventually back to the UK. Interrail
themselves have great ideas if you’re not sure about where to start or what route to take and
have suggested itineraries (which I wish I’d looked into myself!).

In Poland I went to my first (but certainly not last) Voguing competition which was absolutely
fantastic and made some rather regretful (but rather funny) memories in Berlin and Hamburg
before cutting my trip short to fly home just as I was about to get into the swing of things.

With up to 30 days of travel your Discover EU story is really what you make it and, as I
mentioned before, there really is no harm in applying. My top tip for potential applicants would
be to really consider what you want to get out of the trip once you’ve secured your ticket. Maybe
you’re a history fanatic or maybe want to visit the set of The Sound of Music (whatever floats
your boat.)! Make a mind map, or brainstorm however you like but whatever you do remember
to have fun!

By Annabelle

#EuropeanYouth #Europe #ExpandYourComfortZone #EUYearofRail #ConnectingEurope #Eurotrip #opportunities #railways #raillife 

UK nationals are welcome to apply for this round. We strongly encourage you to do so!

Image courtesy of europa.eu

Hope is a good place to start

I’ve never been one for the colder seasons. I’m definitely more of a summer person.

Summer, to me, screams ‘endless opportunities’, ‘endless days’ and ‘endless hope’. Truth be told, I often struggle to find any hope in autumn and in winter. The days seem to end only as they’ve just begun, and I, for one, muddle through November and half of December because of the thought that the Christmas holidays are on their way.

Hope seems to be lacking in most places at the moment, not least because COVID is still all around us. It’s strange, however, how September has seen a marked change in tone. From the fuel crisis—which may have been caused by Brexit’s lagging outcomes—to the ever-increasing COVID cases that never seem quite to die off, hope is certainly not the first word that comes to mind for this month, let alone the last year and a half.

It’s easy to see the stories such as the fuel crisis and feel despondent as to what Brexit has in store for us. It’s definitely easy—and, in many ways, very valid—for young people to feel angry, scared, and concerned about their future, a future that now seems a bit cloudier and more isolated than it once was. Personally, I know that all of this has definitely fuelled my anxiety into a higher gear than usual. 

However, I maintain that we must remain hopeful, even when it seems to be the most difficult thing to do. 

Yes, the news seems scary at the moment. No, we don’t have much of a clue as to what the future may hold. But there are so many things that make me hopeful that doom is not necessarily on the horizon. 

The existence of groups like EuroPeers gives me hope that international interconnectivity will not just disappear in a cloud of smoke, leaving us to wonder what it is that we’re supposed to do now. The fact that so many young people still see value in Europe, in being a part of a group like EuroPeers, shows that this generation is fully equipped to deal with whatever it is that may come their way. There is a connection still all across Europe. That is hope.

Furthermore, something as silly as just going on TikTok fills me with hope and laughter. Yes, at 22 years of age, I’m probably too old for TikTok. I accept that! But just going onto TikTok and seeing how young people deal with stressors like the weird historical moments we find ourselves going through right now (Brexit and COVID, to name just two) is proof that not all is lost. Without trying to sociologically dissect TikTok, I believe that this app will bring this generation together and prove that there are even more of us who think as we do. That is also hope.

Of course, it’s very understandable to feel lost, agitated and confused about everything that’s going on in the news right now. But reminding yourself that there is still much hope in this world, even as little as it may be, is a good place to start.

By Caitlin

EuroPeers finally get to get together: Annual Network Meeting in Rome

It’s been just under a week since I returned from the Annual Network Meeting in Rome and I still can’t get over the excitement of both the event and the opportunity to explore Rome itself.

I somehow decided it best to get the 5:50 am flight and after an unknown amount of caffeine, I found myself navigating just about every type of transportation to rock up at the hotel and have a shower to make myself semi-presentable.

When I first got there I didn’t quite know what to expect, I’d seen the itinerary but you just know with a EuroPeers event you can’t quite slot the experience into an info pack. I was greeted by many new faces and a few familiar ones, it was great to see fellow UK EuroPeers Alex and Nathan getting involved as part of the training team.

EuroPeers UK delegation

The Annual Network Meeting was a great opportunity for members from all around Europe to come together and share best practice, skills, memories and gather inspiration to help forge a path forward. I learned more about projects such as the international social events (of which the UK will be one of the next hosts!) and multiple podcasts already ran by EuroPeers, and delved into how to grow these projects ourselves. We also spoke about key topics such as Inclusion and the Environment, showcasing some of the great work that has been going on both within and outside of the network, such as the School of Peace talking to us about how they’re breaking down barriers in their community using education.

The evenings were great to mix and find out more about others’ experiences with Erasmus+ and the ESC, everyone had a story to tell and it was great to hear them all. The meals were amazing but we felt we couldn’t travel to Rome and not have any pizza, thus an excursion was mounted into the city in the search of the one true pizza. I’m a bit of a fussy eater and had mine with sausage meat on it and absolutely no veg. Seeing the sites of the city was amazing too, whilst walking around the rich history would just jump out at you in forms such as of an age-old building hidden within what could appear just another vibrant cityscape.

It was great to have discussions on how we can grow the network, what we need to do this, and how we can do this. Following the meeting, there will be an ideas board feeding into a resource hub allowing EuroPeers to pool ideas and access resources such as icebreakers to assist in any sessions they wish to run. The ability to collaborate is such a key thing to EuroPeers and I’m grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to come together and look to create things as a network.

Overall it was amazing to see so many enthusiastic and inspired EuroPeers, talking about both projects they’ve done and ones we can do together in the future, it’s given me memories I’ll cherish and projects to keep me busy, so keep an eye out for the international online social event which will be arranged soon, and also for the new ideas board and resource hub we’re currently underway creating!

By Jack

ANM training team

Once a EuroPeer Always a EuroPeer, Annual Meeting in Rome, #BackOnTrack

For the very first time, the Italian National Agency hosted the EuroPeers Annual Network Meeting that took place in Rome, between 23-26 September 2021.

It was a hybrid event that gathered 80 participants representing Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Latvia, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, the UK, and Italy. The event started on the 23rd of September 2021 with the arrival of the participants to Rome and some ice breaker activities.

The official welcome to Italy on the 24th of September 2021 was led by Lucia Abbinante, the Italian National Agency Director. 

Sharing Europe #ANM2021 agenda included lots of indoor and outdoor activities maintaining the hybrid format that fostered more inclusive, digital, and green-friendly participation.

Important topics which have been discussed were put into the following sessions: EuroPeers Blended Cultural Event, Showcase of good practices, the European Youth Event workshop (pilot version), Skills & Knowledge sharing, Living Library, Beyond EuroPeers, and Vision & Mission of the EuroPeers network. Each session was structured to guide the workgroups towards clarifying the values we stand for and new ideas we are aiming to transform into short and long-term projects.

To wrap it up properly:

Arrivederci da Italy – keep an eye on EuroPeer events, follow us on our socials, and see you next year! 

By Biljana, Italian National Agency Youth Steering Group Member

 

 

Photos for the Annual Network Meeting courtesy of the Italian National Agency for Erasmus+.

It’s HERE. Explore. Enjoy.

For a number of months plans were under way.

Ever since the idea for an innovative virtual space for EuroPeers had been conceived we got busy sketching out what it might look like, and most importantly, how it would be different when it comes to engaging younger audiences.

We got a EuroPeers UK team together to draw out plans for areas within the virtual space, we collected over the years, and abundance of static, and interactive resources, and this project, is a remarkable showcase of the amount of work EuroPeers UK has done over the years, and now is needed more than ever, with international opportunities for young people in the UK being under significant threat, facing uncertain future.

Our massive thank you goes out to Paul Oxborough for coordinating the work done by the amazing team of youngsters at Chesterfield College led by Piers Ching.

Make sure to pay a visit to the space, and recommend it to those in your network who would be interested in learning a thing or two about the benefits of international experience.

EuroPeers UK Team

Virtual Space launching soon

After the year we’ve had due to Covid 19 it is always a pleasure to get out and meet people
in the real world, and this is what happened last week at Chesterfield College. As you might
know, they have been partners with Momentum World creating two experimental online
virtual spaces. We managed to meet the Digital Media Team from the college to discuss
these spaces and also explore a great new international project called ‘Lessons From
Lockdown’.

It is great to have regional partnerships, and this is extra special as it is involving students
from my hometown and the college my daughter went to. This is great for their CVs and
portfolios having examples of projects from real companies they can talk about at an
interview.

When you end up in the EuroPeers Virtual Space you might very well be on a spaceship
or in an underground bunker – you decide! but wherever it is, it is a space to be explored, a
chance to find out more about the work of EuroPeers. See if you can find the secret maze of
discovery and watch the videos, head into the cinema, collect the objects from the outdoor
world, and along the way explore lots of other rooms.

The space will be officially launched mid-July and will be fully accessible via a web browser.

By Paul Oxborough, Creative Director at Momentum World

Caitlin

My name is Caitlin, I’m 22 and I’m a final year French student at the University of Liverpool. 

Doing the course that I do, learning French, and immersing myself in French studies every day, I always knew my year abroad was looming—and not in a good way. It hung over me like a cloud. Funnily enough, I never actually wanted to do it, but it was essential to becoming fluent and growing my speaking capabilities. Doing the year abroad meant a loss of everything comfortable to me—a loss of hearing a language I understood every day, a loss of the same old supermarket (big Asda), and a loss of knowing my way around a place easily. I’ve done a lot of comfortable things in my life so far. Challenges have existed of course, but none quite like this. It was going to be the biggest mental challenge I had ever faced. But it turned out to be the best challenge I ever did.

My Erasmus+ program, and the experiences I had abroad in France, turned out to be the making of me. Of course, the first few months were difficult. It was an adjustment that was only comparable to that of moving to university for the first time, and even then, that’s not quite a satisfying comparison for me. It was bigger than that. I stumbled over trying to make French come out of my mouth and I had to deal with being in a completely new environment. I had moments of panic and anxiety to the point of looking at flights home, to leave France and quit the year abroad. It’s important to stress that this would not have been a failure and is certainly not a bad thing. However, over the course of one month, and then two, I started to settle in. I made friends (French and English speakers!). I discovered new cultural interests that I didn’t think I had—Loire Valley chateaux are my Mastermind specialist subject. I saw places that I had only ever seen in films. I eventually started to truly speak, and get quite good at, the French I had been superficially studying from textbooks my whole academic life. The Loire Valley became my home, and I can truly say I’ve never felt so at home somewhere ever.

Having to leave my year abroad abruptly in March 2020 (for a reason we all know, so I shall not speak of it here!) was incredibly devastating. My whole life had been built there. But, most importantly, the whole character-building story arc of the film that is my life took place there. I was forced to overcome the obstacles that came in my way but, equally, I was forced to relax and just enjoy myself. 

Travelling, living, and working abroad was without a doubt the most interesting and engaging period of my life thus far. My Erasmus+ experience had provided me with more confidence, more cultural exchange, and more thrills than anything I’d done before. The person I am today was made from my year abroad.

That’s why I would recommend travelling and/or working abroad to anyone. And that’s also why the Erasmus+ program (and being in the EU) was so special—it afforded opportunities to me and all my peers that don’t come about every day. They both gave us all a chance to connect with different people, different countries, and different ways of living. As for me and my friends who also participated in Erasmus+, we all grew as people—the people who went away to their year abroad programmes turned into their wildly more confident and experienced versions by the time 2020 rolled around.

All that being said, my biggest takeaway from my Erasmus+ experience is the sense of togetherness and the sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves. The connections I made to people, to Europe and to the planet are so strong that I guarantee that they will stay with me forever. While we may not have that so much anymore, it’s still possible—I believe these things cannot truly die.

By Caitlin

Welcome to One Time In… A EuroPeers UK Podcast

One Time In… A EuroPeers UK Podcast, episode 1 has now been released. You will get to enjoy hearing new stories, hosted by two EuroPeers; Joseph and Nathan, once a fortnight. Episode 2 is out on 23 April. 

 

We’re starting off strong with a heart-warming tale from our good friend Federico.

 

What happens when you send a young Spanish man with a mohawk into the Slovakian countryside? We are going to find out! Join us as we hear a humbling story of unexpected friendship despite language, culture, and generational barriers. It’s a great story with its fair share of laughs; It’s One Time In Slovakia with Federico.

 

Links:

Soundcloud, Spotify, YouTube: @EuroPeersUK

 

By EuroPeers UK Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experienced EuroPeers Wanted!

We are looking for 1-2 experienced EuroPeers who would like to join us for a session at the international online training course to share their experiences from their previous activities as a EuroPeer. The meet & greet with the new EuroPeers will take place on Friday, 26th March from 10am – 12pm CET in breakout sessions. Optionally you can also join the action planning on 28th March from 10am – 12pm CET. Our digital follow-up event will take place all day on 17th April where you are invited to join in as well.

Beforehand, we will send you a link to a Padlet where you can fill in your short profile in advance. Please have a think about what activities you can recommend to the new EuroPeers and what advice you would like to share. Other than that, you don’t have to prepare anything. We are looking forward to meeting you at the training course!

If you would like to join in, please let us know by 12th March.

By Alexandra Person

Living Networks

I’m lucky that I haven’t had to be glued to my laptop screen as others have during the last few months, but still I can’t help noticing the way that everyday communication is changing. Without the ability to meet in person, technology is bridging the gap between old and new normal. Whereas a video chat used to be a monthly check-in to appease the parents, or a 6-monthly event with an old friend perhaps, now if a day goes by without using my smartphone’s video chat feature, it’s a strange one. And that’s changing things.

A group chat with old university friends that used to require a few week’s coordination, now happens overnight. Colleague living in a different time-zone? No worries! I find myself receiving more calendar notifications than old school text messages these days, and that’s changing things. It’s profound for me because I spent a lot of years building short term connections with people, and having them fall away. I travelled a lot and crossed paths with many wonderful and interesting characters, but never for very long. And that was fine, but now that I’m more stationary than ever, I find myself investing time in keeping old connections alive; keeping that pulse going. It’s a small thing to dedicate oneself to, really, but I realised only once my ability to create new social connections was curtailed did I start to appreciate the ones I already had.

The value of these living networks is impossible to estimate. I always found it so liberating for each connection I made to be fresh and new, ripe with possibility and free of any baggage whatsoever. But now I see their limitations, and that the true infinite possibility lies in the cradle of long term connections, nurtured and developed over time, with foundations of support, understanding, and perhaps even a little
shared endeavour.

Hmm…

But that’s just community, isn’t it. In these times where physical interaction is so heavily policed, there has been such danger of losing community, but it hasn’t happened. We’ve found new ways to support each other, from the most vulnerable, so a simple video chat with your Gran at the weekend. For sure I’m concerned that it’s desensitising; certainly, it’s disturbing to me, watching old TV shows and instinctively thinking “Oh God! They’re not social distancing!”. The world’s changing, but if there’s one thing we humans are good at, it’s adapting to change. And the human spirit won’t be suppressed.

In fact, I think more than “bridging the gap,” technology is busily sketching the blueprint for how the future will look. For now, that means keeping connections alive, keeping communities supportive and vibrant, and maybe even breathing life into a few relationships that have been all but forgotten.

And that’s okay with me.

By Joseph

EuroPeers Virtual Space

A while ago we have asked for your thoughts on the prospect of developing our very own online virtual space. 

Over the last few months, the EuroPeers UK team has been working on a new level of innovation that aims to generate a different kind of online presence for young people. In partnership with Momentum World and Chesterfield College, a new 360 virtual space is being developed.

The virtual space will be accessed via a web browser meaning no special equipment is needed. Using a mouse and keyboard you will be able to navigate through various rooms exploring different aspects of EuroPeers UK.

The different rooms we hope to include are:
 The main foyer
 The International room
 The EuroPeers cinema space
 The EuroPeers library
 The Communication room
 The Newsroom
 Then there will be a portal to the ‘contact us’ and the ‘get involved’ room.

Project Manager Paul Oxborough shared:

“We are trying to redefine how young people access information online – most people have been ‘zoomed’ to death throughout 2020 so we have to look at new creative ways to re-engage them. By working with Chesterfield College it means the students can take on meaningful work experience with us as a client and develop a product they can add to their portfolios. This will help when they go for future jobs”.

Watch this space, we will do another feature in the next newsletter.

By EuroPeers UK Team

Eurodesk: a snapshot in 30 stories

This new Eurodesk UK publication showcases 30 original stories covering young people’s experiences and the work of the youth sector. 

Eurodesk’s mission is to help young people experience the world. Engaging and inspiring young people – and those who work with them in the youth sector – is key to this. At Eurodesk UK we love sharing their travels, projects, thoughts, and views on our website and social media, and now in our new publication ‘Eurodesk: a snapshot in 30 stories’.  

The range of experiences covers six topic areas: Have Your Say, Study, Travel, Volunteer, Work, and Youth Work. From volunteering placements to studying for a semester abroad, everyone has a unique experience and a story to tell, not only on what they did but how it affected them personally. 

The publication is interactive so you can navigate between different stories and explore them at your own pace, selecting preferred topics and/or specific stories. It is also accessible for text readers. 

Eurodesk: a snapshot in 30 stories is available here: https://www.eurodesk.org.uk/resource/eurodesk-snapshot-30-stories

By Eurodesk UK Team